So the redesign for CSS is coming along well…

3 minute read

March 1, 2010, 1:42 AM

The redesign of this site to implement CSS layouts is coming along well. So far, all the major templates are built, the site navigates, and the Archives and Major Areas sections are complete.

I’m building the new version of the site in a “sandbox“, and I’m going to launch it all at once. This isn’t going to be a launch-in-sections like I did in 2004 and 2007. I’m doing the whole thing at once. I’m also deliberately designing it to make sure that no links change. The site still uses PHP, so it’s not like pages are going to have to get re-spidered anyway for an extension change.

As far as how things are going to look, expect to see a number of tweaks. All the screen-captures in Major Areas are updated, and Major Areas has a new header image. In Archives, the Vintage Schumin Web page has been completely rewritten, and I’ve attempted to clean up navigation on the Site Updates page. Then also look for various minor changes throughout, as I bold this or italicize that.

Right now, I’m most worried about two areas. I’m worried about the Main Page, and the Journal. For the Main Page, the Photo Feature concerns me. Currently, the database supplies the left edge of the main content panel, because it varies depending on whether the Photo Feature is horizontal or vertical. I feel that implementing that variable in CSS will be something of a challenge, but I think I’m up to it. Then in the Journal, I’m not too worried about actually designing it all. I’m more worried that a few entries might break a CSS-designed layout and have to get fixed. I’m not too keen about having to comb through 1,200-some Journal entries to find a few bad apples, though I have a feeling I know which ones might break the new page if something is going to break it. Hopefully that concern is unfounded, and everything will go smoothly. We’ll soon find out, I suppose.

Meanwhile, I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago. I was always a bit leery about CSS for a long time, but once I got my hands on it and determined that I was really going to do it all the way, it wasn’t bad. For ten years, I used tables for layout, and while it was nice, it wasn’t too centralized. I first started using CSS for colors and fonts in 2003, but I kept the layout in tables. Thus if you turned off CSS right now, things wouldn’t look too different, other than losing the colors and the fonts. The thing about tables, though, is that since it’s replicated on every page, to make changes to the layout requires changing every page. Not fun. For minor tweaks, one could search-and-replace, but for big changes, it required manually copying and pasting the content onto a new template, and hoping I didn’t forget anything. Besides, using tables for layout is so last year.

And here’s what’s weird – breaking out of tables and into CSS is requiring the copypasta routine again, though hopefully for the last time this time. Now I’ll be able to just style it and boom – a new look. And this will be a bigger job compared to when I last did this in 2007. Since then, the site has grown by like 17 photo sets in Photography and Life and Times, plus I’ve got three more in various states of completion that need to be carried over incomplete.

Hopefully, though, once I’m done, the site will be leaner and more flexible, and better prepared for the future. Or at least I’d like to think.

Web site: HTML Dog on "Bad Tags"

Song: Grocery Store Musical

Quote: Meanwhile, one of the things that led to the redesign turns out to not be me at all. In Android, justified text doesn't extend the width of the screen like it's supposed to. After hours of experimenting, I finally determined that it's definitely a bug. Thus I filed bug report 6767 on it. If you can help fix this, I'm sure that many would appreciate it.

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